It is prime time for some of the best smallmouth bass fishing of the entire year in Lake Erie’s tributaries, harbours and near shore reefs. Lake Erie water temperatures hover around 45F.
The smallmouth bass action is going strong in the Lake Erie tributaries with good numbers of bass through mid-creek. Catches have been best on Cattaraugus Creek. Recent rain contributed a much needed increase in flow on the small to medium tribs which had been low and clear. Cattaraugus, Eighteen Mile, Canadaway and Chautauqua Creeks are all good bass bets this weekend. Fly anglers do well with woolly buggers and minnow imitation patterns, especially emerald shiner imitations. Casting and retrieving stickbaits and crankbaits that imitate minnows also works very well. Anglers fishing in Lake Erie and tributary streams can keep one bass per day, minimum size 20 inches and use of natural bait such as minnows is permitted. The last of the season’s steelhead are mainly in Cattaraugus Creek. Mid to lower section of the creek are best for drop-back steelhead. Channel Catfish have also moved into the lower sections of the tributaries, settling into deeper holes. Fishing at night with worms, raw shrimp or cut bait can have you hooked into a 20 to 30 pound channel catfish.
May is also a good month for smallmouth bass fishing in nearshore reef areas of Lake Erie. Target bass concentrations hanging around rocky structure in 15-20 feet of water. Productive areas include Seneca Shoal, Woodlawn Bar, Myers Reef, Evans Bar and Van Buren Bay. Casting and retrieving of lures is a proven early season method. Top lures include tube jigs, twister tails or deep diving stickbaits and crankbaits. Look for smallmouth bass action to pick up in harbors such as Barcelona, Dunkirk, Sturgeon, Small Boat Harbors and Black Rock Canal (south of Peace Bridge). Minnows or minnow imitation stickbaits will produce.
Trollers are managing a few nighttime walleye, but the good bite has yet to start. Early season walleye action is best in nearshore areas at night. Trolling with shallow diving stickbaits or worm harnesses in as little as 6 feet of water over rocky and rubble areas is a good bet. Try to locate areas that have water temperatures in the low to mid 50s and troll around 2 mph. Good early season locations include (from west to east): Shorehaven Reef, Bournes Beach, Green Hills, Van Buren Bay, Evans Bar, off Hoak’s Restaurant (Hamburg) and near the mouth of Smokes Creek.
Upper Niagara River
Bass and panfish action will be best in areas with slightly warmer water temperatures, like the various harbors and inlets along Grand Island, Buffalo and the Tonawandas. Good locations to try include Beaver Island State Park Marina, Blue Island Marina, Big Six Creek Marina and the foot of Ontario Street. These warmer water pockets draw in bait fish which in turn draw feeding panfish and bass. Look for smallmouth bass to move into the shallow areas on the canal side of Bird Island Pier. For those willing to walk from Broderick Park to south of the Peace Bridge, action can be very good.
Crappie catches have been decent this week and word is they are not spawned out yet. The southern basin has been best with good action under the bridge, in Hadley Bay and around Crib and Grass Islands. Fathead minnows have produced in 4-6 feet of water. With many anglers still chasing crappie, walleye reports have been slim. Shore anglers at Long Point have caught a few at night on Rapalas and Rat-L-Traps. Casting from other points and stream inlets could produce walleye as well. Night trollers have also caught a few on stickbaits and worm harnesses in 8-10 feet of water near stream inlets and weed beds.
Inland Trout Streams
Much needed rain brought stream levels up in most creeks. A few sections of larger streams may be a bit turbid, but overall the streams are in good fishing shape. Anglers are having success with little spinners, salted minnows, worms and flies. Fly anglers are reporting an increase in fly hatches. Trout are rising to the last of the hendricksons. Caddisflies are present on most streams, march browns and grey foxes should start soon. Nymphs such as stoneflies, scuds, pheasant tails and caddisflies will also catch fish.
Trout Stocking 2009
Many of the region’s streams and lakes are stocked each spring (March through May) with thousands of yearling brown, rainbow and brook trout. In addition to the traditional stocking of yearling trout, many waters also receive generous numbers of two-year old brown trout that average 14 inches in length. All of the region’s trout stocking waters have now been stocked, though select waters will receive a second stocking during May. For a complete list of stocked waters by county and number of trout stocked, view the Spring 2009 Trout Stocking pages. Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many stocked trout streams and wild trout streams in the region.
Wiscoy Creek Angler Diary Program
The DEC Region 9 Fisheries Office will be running an angler diary program for Wiscoy Creek in Allegany and Wyoming Counties during 2009 and is currently looking for anglers to keep diaries. If you fish Wiscoy Creek (even once) and would like to keep a diary for DEC, please call the DEC fisheries office at (716) 372-0645 or email email@example.com. The program will run March 1 through October 31. This program duplicates one run in 2006 and will be used in conjunction with a late-summer electrofishing survey to evaluate the fishery’s overall quality. In 2006, over 115 anglers signed up for the program.
If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; firstname.lastname@example.org ) or Jim Markham (716-366-0228; email@example.com ). Good Luck Fishing!
The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.